The Silent Patriot
WARNING: This is very political. I hope y'all will still like me now that I've come clean with some of my opinions.
I don't have any of those yellow ribbon magnets on my car.
I don't wear a flag pin on my coats and I usually don't engage people in political debates, but that doesn't make me any less of an American, or a patriot for that matter.
Yesterday was the first time I was overcome with patriotism in quite a while, and it was quite by accident.
My apartment has horrible cell reception. This summer I took up the habit of sitting on my front porch when I wanted to have long chats with friends and family, as well as any occasion considered important business. Yesterday was a fairly balmy day considering it was Mid November. Temps in the high 60s and only a mild wind. I had to talk to the bank about some issues regarding the deposit of my paycheck, and I decided to step outside to ensure the conversation wouldn't be dropped by one of those dreaded satellites overhead.
That's when I was reminded of what day it was.
Ohio has lost an unfortunate number of service men and women to fighting in Iraq. One such sacrifice was made by Captain Tyler Swisher of Mariemont. The 35 year old died last month when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle, tossing him into a nearby canal. My job has given me the opportunity to read and write about Captain Swisher and the life that was cut short overseas. He sounded like a great family man who had a deep dedication to America.
I was on the phone with the bank when I saw lights on the firetruck whirling around and the crowd gathering at the funeral home across the street. I had written about the memorial days earlier but somehow it escaped my memory until I saw the riderless horse and the Marines in their dress blues. I closed my cell phone and walked along the sidewalk until I could see the hearse. Suddenly my veins started pounding with a pride for this young man, a sadness that he'll never see the sun set again, and an anger tied to the questions surrounding the reasons for the war.
The memorial procession had a couple mile course until it made it to Captain Swisher's church. I decided to follow along the way for a while, sort of paying homage to this great American hero. Others were standing on the sidewalk, coming out of bars and shops to take off their hats and bow their heads. The police on motorcycles, the cops on horseback, the parade of cars with the little funeral flags waving made their way down Madison Road, it was all very somber and dramatic at the same time. Once they passed Saint Cecilia's church a bell rang out. That low, deliberate resonance sliced through the silence every five seconds or so, drawing the tears and determined anger out of my soul. Little school children stood outside the church, wearing their uniforms and waving American flags.
I walked back to my apartment thinking my problems pale in comparison to the family left behind by Captain Swisher. He leaves behind a wife and three children, having paid the ultimate price for a war I don't understand. I'm not completely convinced we're being told the full reason why we sent 20 thousand men to Iraq.
All I know is one silenced patriot has reminded another silent patriot of her pride for the sacrifices overseas. I am proud I live in a nation where I can question our government. I am proud I have a choice when it comes to electing our leaders. I am proud I have an opportunity to voice a need for change.